Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Contrived On The Sunset Strip

I have, up until now, been firmly in the "Fan" camp of Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I even dropped some of my Award-Winning Critique on the pilot, which, should you care to read, can be found here. Through the preachiness, through the smugness, through the pretending that sketch comedy was the most important thing in the entire world ever, I've remained a true and faithful viewer.

Last night, my faith was tested. Big. Time. For the first time in my history as an Aaron Sorkin fan (and it's been a long and storied history, to be sure), I was confronted by something that, before last night, I'd have never thought could possibly spring forth from the man's keyboard. It's name: Lazy Writing. We're talking 80's sitcom levels of Lazy Writing here. Family Matters and Perfect Strangers, that type of stuff.

The Evidence:

-Two characters accidentally locked themselves outside on the studio's roof. They were, of course, having a bit of a spat beforehand, so now it's all awkward.

-A snake was accidentally let loose in the studio. And wouldn't you know it, one of the characters is afraid of snakes! Zoinks! Not a s-s-s-snaaaake!!!

-A character has to back out of a first date for a perfectly logical reason. So, naturally, instead of just... you know... explaining the situation to her, he lies about his plans and gets busted. And there's Drama!

And these weren't background stories to the main plot; these were the main plot (or at least big chunks of it)! Now, granted, this was one episode in a string of top-notch television and one bad show does not a crappy series make, no matter what. Still, it was disillusioning, to say the least; kind of like watching your minister fuck up the Lord's Prayer and start swearing. Or like accidentally walking in on a supermodel taking a dump.

That unimpeachable guise of perfection is shattered. And now I'm sad.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll admit last night's episode was uber-contrivance. But I just don't see the smugness and self-importance that everyone else seems to think of.

I reason it this way: sketch comedy is their job. Most people treat their job as the end all be all of their own little world (even down all the way to pharmacy technicians whose sole job is to count pills do this [yes, i was one and experienced it first hand]). So it would make sense that people making sketch comedy would act as if it was the most important thing in the world. It's their job!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

That's a fair point, Chris, and I don't disagree with you. I think the smugness comes in to play a lot more in the constant moralizing (Matt's anti-religious diatribes, which, by the way, I happen to agree with) and the general "we're better than you"-ness. It's especially prevelant in their dealings with reality television and the whole Comedia Del'Arte stuff from the eariler episodes.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Ms. C said...

I agree, the forced action in the show is totally lame. What makes it even more lame is how awesome the show can be...all its potential. It's a serious shouw, and it has some very clever parts...but last night's episode was all too cute.

Good call on the Perfect Strangers reference.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your point is well-taken about the smugness.

I also agree with the principles of his (Matt's) anti-religion diatribes but do feel that sometimes they just come off as him trying to reassure himself that he is the bad boy rebel of the comedy world. Not to mention being a prick to his Christian crush.

5:02 PM  

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